Wet Weather

Raindrops on leaves, Wrangell, Alaska

Often I hear other photographers complain that they can’t take photographs on a given day because it’s raining. Here in Northern California we’re finally into our wet season after months of relentlessly blue sky, and that’s a blessing. The wet season brings not only rain, but beautiful skies. Cloud cover also results in reduced contrast and foliage saturated with color. Cityscapes come alive with beautiful street reflections. Fog adds mysterious layers to landscapes. Best of all, sparkling raindrops decorate leaves, as in this photo, taken in a tiny park in Wrangell, Alaska, with a small point and shoot.

Iceberg and reflection, Fords Terror, Alaska.Each summer I have the privilege of leading photography tours to Southeast Alaska. On the last two trips we’ve had rain almost every day. However, the participants find a lot to love. When it’s sunny, bears and other critters crawl off into the woods to cool. When it’s overcast or rainy (we call this “bear weather”), the bears come out to play. Clouds encircle mountain peaks, reminiscent of an Oriental painting. Icebergs are even more blue in “inclement” weather, as in the berg below, photographed between showers in Endicott Arm, Alaska.

Of course, one must be prepared for rain. Rubber boots and raingear make for better creature comforts. Some system for protecting delicate camera gear from moisture is essential. This can be as simple as a plastic bag with a small hole torn to let the front of the lens peep through (secure this with a rubber band), or you can go for more sophisticated commercial options that cost more. Take a chamois cloth or rag to periodically dry off gear in the field. Your camera bag should have a rain cover, even if it’s just a garbage bag. Many bags have built in covers. At the end of your outing, be sure to dry off gear before you put it away.

Because light is dimmer on a cloudy day, you’ll have to increase your camera ISO to compensate for the lack of light so that you can enable high enough shutter speeds to hand hold your camera. On older digital cameras it was not possible to go over ISO 400 without substantial loss in quality, but the latest generations of cameras now make it possible to go much higher.

So, love that rain!